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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

This point is known as Nanshan


After its landing at Pitszewo, on May 5th and the following days, the Second Japanese Army, consisting of three divisions under General (afterwards Count) Oku, pushed westward, driving away the Russian detachments in the vicinity and securing the control of the Port Arthur railway. Then, at Kinchou, on the 26th of May, a great battle was fought. A little south of Kinchou lies a narrow neck of land connecting the Kwangtung promontory with the mainland. It is a neck only a mile and three-quarters broad, having Kinchou Bay on the northwest and Hand Bay on the southeast. On each side the ground near the sea is low, but along the centre of the neck a ridge rises, which culminates in a point about 350 feet above the sea. This point is known as Nanshan, and its commanding position is such that an army holding it blocks all access to the Kwangtung peninsula.

The problem for the Japanese was to obtain possession of this neck as the sole road of access to Port Arthur; while General Stossel, who commanded the Russian troops, knew that if the neck fell into Japanese hands, Port Arthur would become unapproachable by land. "The Nanshan position offered unusual advantages for defence, and had been diligently prepared for permanent occupation during many weeks. Ten forts of semi-permanent character had been built, and their armament showed that, on this occasion, the Russian artillery was vastly superior, both in calibre and in range, to the Japanese guns. Forts, trenches, and rifle-pits, covered by mines and wire entanglements, were constructed on every point of vantage and in separate tiers. Searchlights were also employed, and every advantage was taken of the proximity of a great fortress and its ample plant."*

*The War in the Far East, by the Military Correspondent of "The Times."

It will occur to the reader that war-vessels might have been advantageously used for the attack and defence of such a position, and, as a matter of fact, Russian gunboats manoeuvred in Hand Bay on the southeastern shore of the neck. But, on the western side, the shoal waters of Kinchou Bay prevented access by Japanese vessels in the face of the heavy batteries erected by the Russians on dominating sites. This splendid position was held by a Russian army mustering ten thousand strong with fifty siege-guns and sixteen quick-firers. A frontal attack seemed suicidal but was deliberately chosen. At daybreak the battle commenced, and, after sixteen hours of incessant fighting, a Japanese infantry force turned the left flank of the Russian line and the day was won. Over seven hundred Russian dead were buried by the Japanese, and into the latter's hands fell sixty-eight cannon of all calibres with ten machine-guns. The Japanese casualties totalled 4912.

This battle finally solved the problem as to whether Japanese infantry could hold its own against Russian. "With almost everything in its favour, a strong, fresh, and confident Russian army, solidly entrenched behind almost inaccessible fortifications and supported by a formidable and superior artillery, was, in a single day, fairly swept out of its trenches."* The victorious Japanese pressed forward rapidly, and on the 30th of May obtained possession of Dalny, a base presenting incalculable advantages for the prosecution of an attack upon Port Arthur, which fortress it was now evident that the Japanese had determined to capture.

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